When offensive tackle and Naples (Fla.) native Nick Alajajian gave Florida coaches his verbal commitment during the summer of 2008, Gators fans rejoiced in knowing that a supreme talent was headed to Gainesville.
One look at Alajajian’s highlight film showed an offensive lineman with a nasty mean streak perfectly suited for the rough-and-tumble Southeastern Conference. After an appearance in the 2009 U.S. Army All-American Bowl, Alajajian officially signed on to Florida in February, joining a group which included current starters Xavier Nixon, Jonotthan Harrison and Jon Halapio as well as Kyle Koehne.
Upon arriving in Gainesville, Alajajian appeared to be playing up to his potential, playing in seven games for the Gators. The following season, playing on a line that was perceived to be an offensive strength, Alajajian received limited playing time behind several veterans, but he did see action in all of Florida’s games that year on mostly special teams.
With the impending 2011 season coming on the heels of a number of senior departures, several openings were made available on the Gators’ line. It was time for Alajajian to prove he was worthy of his high praise coming out of high school.
However, things did not appear to unfold as anticipated for Alajajian, who at 6-foot-3 may have been undersized at the tackle position. Alajajian would play in 11 of Florida’s regular season contests — mostly on special teams yet again — and played sparingly along the line.
Although the regular season did not prove to be the breakout junior year Alajajian was hoping for, he found a glimmer of hope as he started the 2011 Gator Bowl in place of an injured Matt Patchan at the ever-important left tackle spot.
After a solid game in Patchan’s place, Alajajian’s outlook appeared to be brighter heading into his final season, as it appeared he would have a chance to leave UF as a real contributor which drew in fan interest for his play rather than his unique name.
However during spring practice, Alajajian was moved to the defensive line — forcing the perception that he was simply not cutting it offensively. While the move could have been the final deathblow to a disappointing career, Alajajian seemed motivated to make a true impact on the Florida defense throughout the spring with head coach Will Muschamp at one point saying Alajajian was “mixing it in pretty good.”
Unfortunately, Alajajian would suffer a wrist injury during practices, forcing him to undergo surgery. While he was able to return in time for fall practice, Alajajian received yet another setback. This time, a fractured knee — resulting from being rolled up on by a teammate during practice — effectively ended Alajajian’s last season in The Swamp before it even started.
For now, it appears that Alajajian will move on from Gainesville after the conclusion of this season. Like many players before him, and certainly many players after, his collegiate career didn’t pan out as anticipated.
While he didn’t again become the dominant monster he once was in Naples, Alajajian served the Gators dutifully during his four years in orange and blue, filling in on special teams and wherever he could for his team.
He may not be the most remembered by fans down the road after his departure, but Alajajian has nothing to be ashamed of in regards to his Florida career.